A number of lines of work carry with them the risk of illness, injury and even death. One of those, as we have increasingly become aware of in recent years, is being a professional football player. Concussions, whether suffered once or multiple times over years of playing, can result in brain disease and other issues that can follow a former player through his life.
Researchers are still trying to learn more about the impact of concussions and other repetitive brain trauma. One degenerative, progressive brain disease receiving increased attention is chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This disease can cause depression, memory loss and dementia. The story of the doctor credited with discovering CTE is even being brought to the big screen in a film called "Concussion," starring Will Smith.
Currently, CTE cannot be conclusively diagnosed in living people. However, because some former players have asked that their brains be researched after their death, doctors have been able to confirm that these men had the disease.
One of those was former National Football League player Junior Seau, who committed suicide by shooting himself in 2012. The man who spent two decades in the NFL had suffered, according to family members, from depression, wild mood swings, insomnia and forgetfulness.
Seau was by no means alone. A study by Boston University and the Department of Veterans Affairs of the brains of 165 former football players found signs of CTE in 96 percent of former NFL players and 79 percent of all former players.
Concerns about concussions have been blamed for a drop in participation in youth football leagues. However, college and even professional players are leaving the game out of concern for their health. One 24-year-old rookie retired after suffering a concussion at the Green Bay Packers' training camp. He said he was afraid that the "next hit to my head could possibly kill me or be life-damaging."
The NFL and other football organizations at all levels are taking steps to reduce the instances of concussions and to diagnose and possibly remove players from the field when a concussion is suspected. However, concussions and their potentially deadly impacts can hardly be eliminated from football because of the very nature of the game. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury that you believe could have been prevented, it's wise to seek experienced legal guidance to determine what your options are.
Source: Think Progress, "New Evidence Confirms Brain Disease Is Widespread Among Former NFL Players," Lindsay Gibbs, Sep. 18, 2015